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When you build your home around a mature Valley Oak tree, other aspects of the site are likely to be distinctive from that point on — and that’s certainly the case with this project by Kikuchi and Associates. With the home already possessing what the designers call “a strong visual ‘indoor-outdoor’ relationship,” a renovation of the house also meant an enhanced outdoor living area. First, a simple Japanese garden was put in place that is a way to visually extend — and link — other rooms of the house. Then, the second phase of the improvements began on the two-acre site: a truly magnificent outdoor living and entertaining space. Now, a portico extends to the main pool and spa area, paved in stone and surrounded by greenery and plantings in a colorful, fragrant border.

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A fully-equipped kitchen makes entertaining easy around pool or spa; a waterfall is a soothing backdrop to the proceedings. Proceed further along the stone path, up a series of steps, and there’s another gathering area: a large circular fire pit, with ample room for seating and gazing, in turn, at the property’s lush new garden additions from a whole different angle. In fact, from the fire pit, you can take in the entire scope of the outdoor living area, past the main pool to a stream, a sculptural addition, and several other water features. In toto, the description of this on the designer’s site may be simply “Hillside Residence” — but now, it’s as much an outdoor living space as an indoor one.

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